Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day

4LAKids: Memorial Day - Monday, May 28, 2007
In This Issue:
LAUSD EXPECTS TO CHOP 500 JOBS: Brewer targets administration
EVENTS: Coming up next week: Jack & Denny Smith Library Celebration, Lummis Day, Feria del Libro, and more!
What can YOU do?

Featured Links:
4LAKids Anthology: All the Past Issues, solved, resolved and unsolved!
4LAKidsNews: a compendium of recent items of interest - news stories, scurrilous rumors, links, academic papers, rants and amusing anecdotes, etc.
Memorial Day is not about picnics, automobile races or the end of testing; it isn't just a congressional recess or long holiday weekend.

Memorial Day recognizes the sacrifices made by those who gave – in Lincoln's words: "the last full measure of devotion" …and when we the living must "highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain".

Lincoln again: "The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature. "

War is as rooted in hubris, vanity and error as it its in the mud and gore of the battllefield– and whether defined as Clausewitz's "politics continued by other means", Tennyson's heroic "blunder", or by the ultimate failure of Lincoln's and our better angels — we must recognize the sad and tragic sacrifices and always guard against the vanity.

Here are two from our City of Angels, lost last week. They were here with us in our communities, at the mall, in the street …on our schools, in the classroom, on the playground. Now gone.

JOSEPH J. ANZACK JR., 20, of Torrance; private first class, Army.
Anzack was among three soldiers captured May 12 in an ambush that killed four U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter near Mahmoudiya, south of Baghdad. His body was found Wednesday floating in the Euphrates River, 12 miles south of where his unit had been attacked with rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire. Anzack had been shot numerous times and appeared to have been dead for several days. He was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division at Ft. Drum, N.Y.

DANIEL P. CAGLE, 22, of Carson; private first class, Army.
Cagle was one of two soldiers killed Wednesday when a bomb exploded near their unit while on foot patrol in Ramadi, west of Baghdad. He died of his injuries in Balad, north of the capital. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division at Ft. Stewart, Ga.

PFC Anzack will never be 21, PFC Cagel never 23.

No more. – smf

►ALSO RIP: The LA TIMES School Me! Column and Blog. We must've had all the education news+views we need in the past year! 's too bad (or stupid) …Bob Sipchen would've loved the Kleiner fiasco at Locke!

- Obits from the LA Times.

LAUSD EXPECTS TO CHOP 500 JOBS: Brewer targets administration
by Naush Boghossian, Staff Writer LA Daily News

May 24, 2007 — Facing a $95 million shortfall in next year's budget, Los Angeles Unified Superintendent David Brewer III on Thursday unveiled a plan to eliminate 500 administrative positions mostly from the district's downtown headquarters, while also shifting more money and staffing to local districts.

The staff reduction is about 10 percent of the district's nonteaching work force and would be achieved through attrition and retirements, he said.

The $6.4 billion operating budget also calls for a $2.5 million cut in classroom services, mostly through staffing reductions that also would be achieved through attrition.

The fiscal plan is Brewer's first as superintendent and reflects reduced government funding, declining enrollment, the impact of a 7.5 percent pay and health benefits increase promised to teachers, and the costs of reducing class sizes.

"It's going to be somewhat painful. We have to balance the budget, we have no choice," Brewer said. "Because of the 7.5 percent total compensation package, we had to make some significant cuts ... and the bottom line is we're going to take this opportunity to restructure the district into a 21st century organization."

The cuts and shifts in funds are in line with Brewer's vow to dramatically restructure LAUSD and its culture after a scathing management audit said local districts are not sufficiently empowered to do their jobs.


The superintendent said that to balance the budget he cut each of LAUSD's eight local districts about 10 percent, mostly in staffing. Cuts in the district's central office totaled about $61.5 million or about 16 percent, he said.

But Brewer also said he shifted about $11 million in professional development funds and about 20 positions to the local districts to boost school-based management.

Brewer said he collaborated with the local districts to construct the budget.

But the move to empower the local districts is likely to draw the ire of the teachers' union and comes even as a district study released Friday found that while LAUSD is underfunded, it still could squeeze out an extra $160 million in savings.

A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, said Friday he is skeptical that moving more resources to local districts would give school sites greater authority over the budget and curriculum.

Duffy said he plans to have a lengthy discussion with Brewer to explain the union's perspective that the local districts have stood in the way of reform.

"We've seen this preacher before and once it gets to the mini-districts, it doesn't get to the school sites - not just the money but the authority to make decisions," Duffy said. "Mini-district folks don't understand local control. It's part of the bureaucratic culture."

Brewer also allocated $5 million to his newly created "innovation division," which will create pilot programs and consider proposals for small clusters of schools to improve student achievement.

Amid Brewer's proposed cuts, a report commissioned last year by the district and UTLA said Thursday that the nation's second-largest school district is one of the most underfunded urban districts in the country.

The report said that about $2.5 billion that LAUSD receives from state and federal governments is "oppressively" restricted and that the district allocates a high percentage of its funds to instruction than other major school districts.

But the report also identified areas to which LAUSD could more effectively allocate resources and said provisions that are part of normal union contracts can become barriers to reform.


The report said the district and UTLA must get beyond district policies and union provisions to accomplish true reform.

"The district cannot transform its schools without the active support of UTLA and, in some cases, without a significant renegotiation of the UTLA contract that exchanges better working conditions for fewer restrictions around scheduling and staffing, and a longer school day that includes collaborative-planning time," wrote author Stephen Frank, director of the nonprofit Education Resource Strategies, which conducted the $200,000 study.

Frank criticized the union's demand for a two-student reduction in class sizes in grades 4 to 12 that will cost LAUSD $10 million over three years.

That money could have been leveraged more to reduce student loads for teachers by creating block schedules or spending it on small literacy groups for English-learners, Frank said.

"I don't know of any research to suggest that a class-size reduction of two is going to impact student learning," Frank said.

But Duffy disagreed that the class-size reduction negotiated in the recent three-year contract would be better used on other student programs.

"This is one of those no-brainers. It's more efficient to teach to 24 kids than to 34 kids," Duffy said.

Duffy said the union, however, is willing to partner with the district to bring innovative practices to school sites.

"But I'm not willing to give up teachers' traditional rights, which I think are critically important, like teachers participating in a deliberative process over bell schedules," Duffy said. "Until I see a formula that retains class-size reduction in a meaningful way and expands it to other grades, I'll fight like hell to keep K-3 class-size reduction."

The district's budget committee will consider the proposed budget in coming weeks. The district is required to submit a balanced budget to the county, with adoption by June 30.

▼ Read the report and the Daily News' bullets below. LAUSD is already (before the cuts) operating with $1100 per student LESS than the average urban US school district and spends a greater percentage of the money it gets in the classroom than all but one. LAUSD gets fewer resources for English Language Learners than other districts AND has a numerically and statistically greater challenge.

The report calls for greater investment; the solution calls for a 10% across the board cut. In ancient Rome if an army unit behaved poorly in battle one legionnaire in ten was executed as collective punishment – this arbitrary "10% cut" was called "decimation". I'm not arguing that LAUSD administration couldn't use a cut back – but when one tasks an underperforming supervisor to reduce staff to a certain extent – whether in the Budget Office or the Local District – he or she rarely starts by looking in the mirror.

Plus this budget will be created and approved by a lame duck Board of Ed – and implemented by their successors. —smf


• LAUSD gets about $9,300 per pupil in government funds compared with an average $10,400 for the 20 largest urban districts.
• English-learners receive significantly fewer resources than those in other urban districts.
• LAUSD invests 59 percent of total expenses in instruction, higher than all benchmark districts except Chicago.
• Funds are heavily restricted by state, federal, district and collective-bargaining rules, leading to programs that can undermine coherence in schools and foster inefficiencies.
• Nearly $160 million for everything from data-processing to program-management staff could be better used.
• LAUSD could organize schools better to provide students with more individual attention and time for learning.
• LAUSD invests significant resources in professional development but lacks a coherent strategy to address district priorities and match needs and performance.


• Implement a reading strategy for the 70 percent of secondary students who are several years behind grade level.
• Create career and leadership opportunities for teachers that allow them to stay in the classroom.
• Free up money from restrictive uses by redesigning the way it travels from the central office to the schools.
• Support English-learners with more teachers and small literacy groups.

Source: Education Resource Strategies report on LAUSD

Editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle

Sunday, May 27, 2007 — After decades of educational reforms in California, it is profoundly disappointing that on the most basic indicator of educational success -- the number of students who graduate from high school -- the state is failing miserably.

The state's official graduation rate shows that only 67 percent of students who start out in the ninth-grade end up graduating four years later. That's the lowest rate in a decade.

That one-third of our students don't make it to graduation would be an unacceptable figure in any country. For it to be happening in a highly industrialized, culturally sophisticated and relatively wealthy state such as California is nothing less than a disgrace.

State education officials quibble about these and other figures. They rightly point out that the measure is not a completely reliable one, because students who are no longer on the rolls at a particular school may have transferred to other districts.

But all the numbers that are available tell the same depressing story: Far too many of our students -- perhaps as many as 150,000 a year -- don't pick up their diploma in what should have been their senior year.

Reducing the dropout rate may be one of the most challenging public-policy issues facing the state. We're now learning, for example, that at least one reform -- the California High School Exit Exam -- may be contributing to the dropout problem. A UCLA study suggests that 50,000 fewer students graduated last year because they flunked the exit exam.

The state is taking some steps to deal with the problem. This year, it is spending $200 million to increase the number of counselors in the seventh through the 12th-grades. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is proposing to add $25 million for counselors to focus on career technical education. The state is also spending $80 million to upgrade the technical education in the schools. That number should go to $100 million in the coming year. It is hoped that these upgraded programs will attract more potential dropouts than traditional academic settings.

But more must be done.

Sen. Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, is determined to turn the dropout crisis into "a top-tier public education priority." As he pointed out, the state constitution makes education compulsory between the ages of 6 and 18. "The law either means something or it doesn't," Steinberg said during a recent editorial board meeting. "Right now, it doesn't."

Steinberg has introduced a package of bills designed to give schools more tools and incentives to keep students in school -- and to hold the schools accountable if they fail. His SB210 would require dropout rates in the eighth and ninth grades, 4-year graduation rates, and the schools ability to prepare students for success in college to be included in the "Academic Performance Index" that measures the performance of a school. His SB344 would require schools to identify students at risk of dropping out as early as the sixth-grade through the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System, or CALPADS.

Another Steinberg bill, SB406, would require schools to place limits on how many hours students with poor grades will be allowed to work. The law, says Steinberg, now allows students to work as many as 48 hours. This legislation offers exceptions for students for whom working is an economic necessity.

Schools cannot affect all of the issues related to the dropout rate -- such as students who get caught up in the juvenile-justice system or are forced to leave for jobs to help support their families -- but the educational system has a critical role in identifying and engaging those who are on the edge of leaving school.

As Steinberg put it, California's dropout rate "elevates to a moral crisis," when one considers the bleak opportunities available to workers without a high-school diploma in the 21st century. The governor and legislators need to address the dropout crisis with the urgency it deserves.

From the LAUSD website

The Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies (LACES) has been ranked among this year's top 50 public high schools in the United States by Newsweek magazine in its May 28 issue. The 6th-12th grade magnet span school in Local District 3 was ranked 46th in the publication's annual edition that lists its top 100 public high schools. Another 31 LAUSD high schools earned place of honor rankings among the top 1,200 U.S. high schools. The scores on based on a formula using Advanced Placement testing and graduating seniors.

North Hollywood (#181 nationally)
Bravo Medical Magnet (278)
Foshay Learning Center (296)
Marshall (353)
Fremont (390)
Eagle Rock (416)
Downtown Business Magnet (421)
Cleveland (443)
Van Nuys (577)
Lincoln (701)
Wilson (737)
Venice (744)
University (749)
Granada Hills Charter (764)
Fairfax (806)
King Drew Medical Magnet (836)
Bell (837)
Carson (849
Monroe (857)
Franklin (901)
Elizabeth Learning Center (903)
Taft (907)
Chatsworth (914)
Hamilton (916)
Manual Arts (933)
Reseda (977)
Hollywood (1,050)
Narbonne (1,077)
Crenshaw (1,172)
Canoga Park (1,235)
Francis Polytechnic (1,246)

• CONGRATULATIONS TO LACES AND TO THE REST …inclusion in this list places these schools among the top 5% in the nation by this measurement - despite the hue and cry about LAUSD being a failure!

That being said he Newsweek criteria is famously suspect, dividing the number of AP (and IB) tests taken (NOT passed!) by the number of graduating seniors — and disallowing schools-within-in-schools (LACES is a high school within a middle-senior span …that is apparently allowed) and schools with a selective criteria favoring high performing learners.* The Newsweek poll also artificially tosses out extremely high performing schools where average SAT scores exceed 1300 [That's the list to be on!] …so this list is a best-of-the-rest rather than a best-of-the-best measurement. —smf

Note: If schools-within-schools were scored the School for Advanced Studies at Marshall HS (@ 8+ AP tests per graduate) would be ranked #6 nationally!

* How the Newsweek #1 school in the nation (Gifted & Talented High School in Dallas @ 14 AP tests per graduate) qualifies as not being selective challenges the meaning of either "non-selective" or "gifted and talented"!

NEWSWEEK: The Top of the Class - The complete list of the 1,200


from Staff Reports

May 26, 2007— Retired Principal Neal B. Kleiner, a losing candidate in this month's school board race, was asked to be interim principal at troubled Locke High School, but the offer was rescinded when he showed up for work, district officials confirmed.

Kleiner said regional Supt. Carol Truscott apologized and told him that her superiors had nixed the arrangement. Filling in instead will be retired Principal Travis Kiel.

Truscott did not return calls. Kleiner lost a hard-fought race to Richard Vladovic, who will represent the district that includes Locke.

►Daily Breeze: SCHOOL BOARD LOSER THINKS POLITICS COST HIM A JOB: Neal Kleiner sees the withdrawal of his job as principal of Locke High School as retaliation after his defeat by Richard Vladovic.

by Paul Clinton, Daily Breeze

Saturday, May 26, 2007 — Neal Kleiner's stint as principal of troubled Locke High School ended before it had a chance to begin this week.

The former administrator, beaten by Richard Vladovic in a May 15 run-off election for a seat on the Los Angeles school board, said campaign politics may have cost him the assignment.

Locke High in South Los Angeles will be represented by Vladovic on the board. And Kleiner, during his campaign, made no secret of his opposition to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's move to gain partial control over LAUSD.

Kleiner was set to take over the school for the final five weeks of the year.

"I ruffled somebody's feathers during the campaign," Kleiner said. "And this week was payback."

Vladovic, the school district and Mayor's Office dismissed Kleiner's assertion that they engineered his ouster.

A day after the election, Carol Truscott, the local superintendent overseeing Locke High, asked Kleiner to replace Principal Frank Wells, who was escorted off campus when he criticized the district for failing to implement dramatic reforms at the school.

After accepting Truscott's offer, Kleiner said he visited Locke High on Tuesday, one day before he was scheduled to start, to reacquaint himself with the campus.

Kleiner began his teaching career at Locke High, starting as a social studies teacher in 1968. He left in 1982.

When Kleiner arrived at the school on Tuesday, Truscott informed him his services were no longer needed. Truscott didn't return calls seeking comment.

District spokeswoman Susan Cox was quoted on a blog as saying the district decided to make "a last-minute change" in Kleiner's status. She didn't elaborate when contacted Friday.

"I was told it was a personnel decision," Cox said. "I don't know anything more."

Vladovic's chief of staff, David Kooper, said he was aware of the situation.

"It was strange to (place)someone who just ran for school board at one of the most volatile schools in the district," Kooper said. "We didn't have anything to do with the hiring or firing of him."

Vladovic, who served as Locke High's principal from 1984 to 1987, said he doesn't hold any ill will toward Kleiner and wouldn't have minded if he served as interim principal.

"I haven't taken office," Vladovic said. "I don't get into management issues."

Kleiner retired a year ago as principal of Muir Middle School. He said he would like to return to LAUSD as an administrator. But since he's collecting a pension as a retiree, he can only work part time.

►BOARD DENIES RENEWAL OF SCHOOL CHARTER: The school board cites New West's admissions process as problematic

by Howard Blume, LA Times Staff Writer

May 23, 2007 — One of the city's highest scoring middle schools was denied its charter renewal Tuesday from the Los Angeles school board, meaning that the school must seek a reprieve from the state to stay in business.

The Board of Education unanimously turned down the renewal petition from New West Charter School over concerns that the West L.A. campus' admissions process could improperly screen out low-achieving students.

New West acknowledges its more extensive admissions process, while insisting the school does nothing wrong. State law requires charters to accept all students seeking entrance regardless of their academic abilities, district officials said.

New West was among four charters whose fate landed Tuesday before the board of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Two other charter schools also are being recommended for denial and a fourth is in line for a conditional renewal even as a district investigation proceeds into its finances.

Charters are independent public schools freed from many education code restrictions in exchange for improving academic achievement. These schools must be approved and overseen by an education agency, usually the local school district. A school's charter must be renewed, typically every five years, or the charter must close.

New West has 300 students in grades six through eight. It scored an 806 on the state's Academic Performance Index, which ranks schools on a scale from 200 to 1,000 based on student test scores in math, English and other subjects. That puts the school in the state's top 30% overall and in the top 10% (the highest ranking possible) among schools with students from similar backgrounds. About 35% of its students are white, compared to 8.8% of L.A. Unified at large.

The school ran afoul of district officials on its admissions packet, which requires a confidential evaluation from a teacher and an administrator at the student's previous school. New West also requires report cards, standardized test scores and, for students performing below grade level, a statement and school documents describing remediation for the student.

In the view of the L.A. Unified charter school office, "the request for test scores" and other requirements "violate the intent of the [state's] Charter Schools Act, which requires that charter schools enroll any student who wishes to attend." The application materials, officials concluded, could act as "a disincentive for parents of low-performing students to apply," which creates "the potential for discrimination."

School co-founder Judith Bronowski said any family that completes the application has an equal chance to get in through the school's lottery. The lottery is held because demand exceeds classroom space.

The school will now seek renewal from the state Board of Education, which had authorized the school after L.A. Unified had initially turned it down.

Two other charter schools being considered Tuesday don't have the test scores of New West. Discovery Charter Preparatory School in Pacoima has seen its API score fall from three years ago. But executive director Matthew Macarah touted the school's accreditation by the Western Assn. of Schools and Colleges.

Pacifica Community Charter School, which serves 160 in kindergarten through eighth grade, had similar explaining to do.

The L.A. school board is scheduled to make a final decision in June on both schools, as well as Ivy Academia Charter. The Woodland Hills school is in a dispute with the district over financial records. The school has denied wrongdoing.


by Charlotte Hildebrand, Contributing Writer, Los Angeles Jewish Journal
[Abridged – link to full version below]

May 25, 2007 — When Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa held a news conference on Friday, May 18, to announce his decision to end a yearlong legal battle to take control of Los Angeles schools, Board of Education President Marlene Canter was standing by his side.

The show of unity -- Canter and Villaraigosa talking about shared goals and aspirations -- is a recent development.

Canter has been one of the mayor's most vociferous critics, leading the fight against Villaraigosa's attempt to wrest power from a school board he saw as ineffective. For Canter, that fight has been a major distraction from working with the mayor on educational reform.

The mayor's turnaround came, in part, because an appellate court declared Villaraigosa's attempted legislative takeover of the school board unconstitutional. Then, this month's school board elections gave the mayor a 4-3 majority of allies on the seven-member body, which further helped him decide not to take the case to the California Supreme Court.

While the new makeup of the school board provides Villaraigosa some measure of control over L.A. schools, he nevertheless will have nowhere near the authority he sought when he announced his takeover plans in his State of the City address in April 2006.

At that time, he outlined a plan, framed in bill AB 1381, that he would bring to the Legislature. The bill proposed a transfer of power away from the school board and into the hands of the schools superintendent and allowed a newly established Mayor's Community Partnership for School Excellence to oversee a cluster of the Los Angeles Unified School District's lowest performing schools.

Canter had always believed in relationship building, and so when she met with Villaraigosa a few months after he set his plan in motion, she reached out for another way to proceed.

"I never felt I needed legislation to build a partnership," she told the mayor.

However, she made no headway, and soon the board president was in a no-holds-barred stalemate with the mayor's office. Since AB 1381 was barreling forward despite zero communication with her, Canter had no choice but to take her fight to Sacramento.

For the next 15 weeks, Canter traveled to the state capitol, accompanied by her chief of staff, Samira Estilai, to share with legislators the LAUSD story. Few were aware that LAUSD had built 65 new schools, the first in 30 years, or that achievement test scores had risen steadily for the last six years. Still, the persistent problems of low-performing schools, a 75 percent graduation rate -- 50 percent according to the mayor -- and a widening achievement gap were addressed.

"Everyone agreed that changes in the school district had not come fast enough or good enough," Estilai said, "but Marlene wanted to make the point that change for the sake of change was not good either."

In spite of Canter's attempts, the Legislature passed the bill on Aug. 29, and in September, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed it into law. In October, the school district filed suit.

While the mayor traveled in Asia during November, the board unanimously elected retired Vice Admiral David L. Brewer III to be the new superintendent, replacing Roy Romer. Canter had led the search committee and felt optimistic about the board's decision: Brewer had strong organizational and management skills, two things the district desperately needed.

But relations between Canter and the mayor deteriorated after Brewer was hired. Then in December, Superior Court Judge Dzintra Janavs struck down AB 1381, calling it unconstitutional.

In January, the mayor appealed.

Canter, 58, who has a crown of wavy brown hair and the determined expression of a fighter, wasn't always so assertive.

As a young, 20-something special education teacher, she was stymied by how to discipline her students, something her professors hadn't taught in college. She rose to prominence in educational circles after she co-wrote a best seller with her social worker husband, Lee Canter, titled, "Assertive Discipline," in 1976.

Its popularity led to their consulting business, Canter and Associates, which the couple ran for 25 years and which became the basis for a teacher training program that has influenced more than a million teachers on how to better manage their classrooms.

After a divorce and the sell-off of their company, Canter spent a year studying Talmud at Kehillat Israel, a Reconstructionist congregation, under Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben. Canter and another student, Adlai Wertman, met each morning in the rabbi's study and discussed how they could better the world.

Wertman remembers the day Canter came into the study and announced, "I'm going to run for the school board."

"I have no doubt that the study of Talmud was an important factor in her decision," said Wertman, who now runs Chrysalis, a nonprofit homeless service. "Marlene's Judaism has a lot to do with tikkun olam."

Canter's campaign for District 4 -- an area that runs from the Valley to the Westside and all the way to the Pacific -- reached out to parents who sought a role in their children's education. Her friends and supporters believe Canter ran for the school board, in part, because as a young mother, she did not have the know-how or skills to get involved in her own children's education. Both her children attended private schools.

Canter was overwhelmingly elected to the school board in 2001.

One of her first acts as board member was to travel around the city by bus, visiting the most overcrowded schools. Romer had just begun the $19.2 billion new construction project, with 150 new schools planned by 2012. By the time Canter was re-elected to another four-year term in 2005 and became board president, more than one-third of those schools had been built, relieving overcrowding and returning 98 elementary schools back to the traditional calendar year.

During the past six years, Canter has worked with parent leaders and individuals to recruit families back into their neighborhood elementary and middle schools.
"This is the biggest opportunity parents have ever had to really create neighborhood schools," Canter said. "We haven't been able to do that in a very long time. By 2012, we plan to have a neighborhood school in every neighborhood of Los Angeles."

Canter's critics have accused her of micromanaging the board to the detriment of the students. While she focused on laundry lists, critics said, developing policy to improve academic achievement went missing.

An audit of the school district by Evergreen Solutions of Florida seconded that view. "The governing body and individual board members are heavily involved in management operations and issues and not focused on policy."

According to Canter, many of those problems have already been resolved.

But for Canter to silence her critics, she will have to act quickly to implement reform policy that the district needs in order to move forward. And the mayor's reversal on AB 1381 may give her the chance to do that.

Last week's mayoral news conference, where Canter stood just to Villaraigosa's right, came following a slow détente between the two leaders.

The night before this year's March primary elections, Canter received a phone call at home from Villaraigosa. They had not spoken in seven months, while the mayor-backed bill, AB 1381, was in the courts waiting an appeal. Now four school board candidates favored by the mayor were running in the next day's election. He was calling to extend an olive branch.

"No matter what the outcome of this election," Villaraigosa told Canter, "I want to start working together."

"I'm delighted," Canter responded. "This is what I've been wanting for two years."

The mayor also pledged to help her and Brewer on two important bills: one in Sacramento that would affect the district's funding for the new school construction program, the other in Washington, D.C., concerning special education and coordinated testing standards in the No Child Left Behind program.

Soon after the elections -- in which the mayor's school board candidates won one, lost one and tied two -- Villaraigosa met with Canter and Brewer together for the first time. He reiterated that he wanted to work together.

Later that month, Canter and Brewer joined the mayor as part of a delegation traveling to Washington to meet with senators about No Child Left Behind. It was the first time that Canter, Brewer and Villaraigosa had been seen working together as a team. Their public appearance had enormous significance to Canter.

"It was a milestone," she said. "By meeting with us together, the mayor established a new tone and tenure for partnership. I felt encouraged."

On April 17, the Court of Appeals upheld the lower court's decision, ruling for a second time that AB 1381 was unconstitutional. Canter was relieved, while the mayor spoke of a possible appeal to the state Supreme Court.

The following week, Villaraigosa, Canter and their staffs met in what those in attendance agree was a friendly meeting.

"Everyone was here in the best interest of the kids," said Marshall Tuck, 33, the former president of Green Dot Charter Schools and now head of the Mayor's Community Partnership for Excellence in the Schools. "They may have had their disagreements about AB 1381, but the mayor and the board president are both passionate about education."

In the May 15 runoff elections, the mayor gained two more seats on the school board with Tamar Galatzan and Richard Vladovic, both part of the mayor's reform platform. With Yolie Flores Aguilar, who was elected in March, and Monica Garcia, elected last year, Villaraigosa now has a 4-3 majority on the school board.

A few days after the election, the mayor announced his decision to drop his legal battles against Los Angeles Unified.

Canter is optimistic and enthusiastic about working with the mayor and his allies.

"I expect the same of everyone I work with, as long as we work together as a team," she said. "We have a huge job in front of us. The most critical issue is improving our schools."

The critical question is what will a partnership between the mayor and the school district look like now?

Canter would like to see the mayor use his full jurisdiction, to go beyond the three clusters of low-performing schools. Brewer has talked to Villaraigosa about establishing empowerment zones: literacy centers in housing projects, gang intervention in neighborhoods and parent and community involvement.

Ironically, these are the fundamentals of AB 1381 that the mayor has always believed in.

On the issue of parent involvement, the mayor and the board president can both agree.
"Every school has to have a great principal, and every classroom has to have a great teacher," Canter said. "But then you have to have a vibrant parent culture. When you have those three pieces all serving the students, then you have a great school. I can go to any of our new schools and say the same thing:

'Parents, you have to get involved.'"

Full unedited story

EVENTS: Coming up next week: Jack & Denny Smith Library Celebration, Lummis Day, Feria del Libro, and more!
►THE GRAND OPENING OF THE JACK AND DENNY LIBRARY AND COMMUNITY CENTER AT MOUNT WASHINGTON SCHOOL WILL BE HELD ON SATURDAY, JUNE 2, 2007 FROM NOON TO 9:30 P.M., AND IS FREE TO ALL, INCLUDING ARTS, ENTERTAINMENT, FOOD AND DRINKS! The opening of this Community Center as Center of the Community represents not only the final completion of this nearly 80-year old school by adding a library, computer lab and multi-purpose room. It also represents a new venue for the community arts, performances and associations at the Mt. Washington Elementary when school is not in session. All performances and participation from the community for this event has been donated.


Entertainment will include children's performances, sing-a-longs, story telling, theater, dancing, mimes, professional musicians who are local residents, comedians from the Ice House Comedy Store in Pasadena and performances by two world renowned groups that will highlight the program.

The building was named The Jack and Denny Smith Library and Community Center, as a tribute to Jack Smith, whose legacy is writing about the Mt. Washington area. His books, such as How to Win a Pullet Surprise - The Pleasures and Pitfalls of Our Language, 1982; Alive in LaLa Land, 1989; Eternally Yours, 1996 and many others - along with his column in the Los Angeles Times - immortalized the Mt. Washington neighborhood as a mythical/mystical sanctuary for character-driven colorfully off-beat life in LA!

The June 2nd Community Showcase will include many local talents and their organizations. The broad community of Mt. Washington, including Highland, Cypress, and Glassell Parks will able to use the community center for their meetings, presentations and performances. All future events are to be scheduled and coordinated by the steering committee of the Friends of Mt. Washington made up of representatives of 11 organizations in the surrounding community.

The Los Angeles County Arts Commission and Local 47 will donate the world-renowned AROHI ENSEMBLE MUSICAL CONCERT. AROHI plays creative world music through original compositions and improvisations, and is inspired by the deep classical and folk traditions of India, the Middle East, Macedonia, Spain and Brazil.

The world-renowned SHAOLIN MONKS MARTIAL ARTS TROUPE from the Henan Province of China has performed at the Kodak Theater eight times, all which have sold out. Their 30 members create images through their exacting movements that astound their audiences. This special presentation is arranged and funded by the Henan Province Chinese government and will be their only LA engagement on their tour.


Come Celebrate the Spirit and Diverse Culture of L.A.'s Northeast Neighborhoods with Food, Music, Art, Poetry and Dance !

The rainbow of Northeast L.A.'s traditional and popular culture will be represented in music, dance, poetry, puppetry, art, food and native American ceremony at the second annual Lummis Day: The Festival of Northeast Los Angeles, from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm on Sunday, June 3, at Lummis Home, (200 East Ave. 43) and Sycamore Grove Park (4900 N.Figueroa Street).

Admission to all Lummis Day events -- at Lummis Home and Sycamore Grove Park -- is free. Take the Metro Gold Line to Southwest Museum Station for Lummis Day

CHARLES FLETCHER LUMMIS 'Apostle of the Southwest,' 1859-1928
• Founder of the Southwest Museum • Los Angeles First Librarian • Renaissance Man

"Charles Lummis was one of those amazing characters who used to inhabit the interface between today and yesterday."

In 1884, Lummis walked from Ohio to California in a pair of knickerbockers and street shoes to take a job as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times. He gained a national following with weekly letters about his escapades along the way. A New England Yankee by birth, he gained a deep appreciation for both the natural beauty and cultural diversity of the Southwest, where he remained for the rest of his life.

Lummis, almost always attired in his trademark well-worn, dark green, Spanish-style corduroy suit, soiled sombrero and red Navajo sash, went on to become one of the most famous and colorful personalities of his day as a book author, magazine editor, archaeologist, preserver of Spanish missions, advisor to President Theodore Roosevelt and a crusader for civil rights for American Indians, Hispanics and other minority groups.

“LUMMIS DAY” is presented by Occidental College and sponsored by the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council, the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council, the Glassell Park Neighborhood Council, the Greater Cypress Park Neighborhood Council, the Lincoln Heights Neighborhood Council, and the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council, making it the first time that a single non-municipal event has been jointly sponsored by six neighborhood councils. http://www/


More than 30,000 children and their families will have an opportunity to meet internationally renowned authors, listen to storytellers, buy books, visit with special Disney and Nick Jr. animation characters, and enjoy food and live entertainment at the 5th Annual Feria del Libro. The day-long book festival for young readers and budding writers interested in quality, culturally diverse, children’s books, will take place in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, June 2, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 200 N. Spring Street, City Hall.

Among this year’s featured authors are: NOBEL PEACE PRIZE WINNER RIGOBERTA MENCHU TUM, who, in addition to presenting her children’s books, addresses the importance of literacy for a democracy; and award-winning author and poet LUIS RODRIGUEZ, whose book: Always Running – which denotes the trials of growing up among gangs in Los Angeles – has been described as “beautifully written and politically astute” by Entertainment Weekly.

The Feria del Libro is a community event that promotes literacy in the home and academic achievement in school, while making quality culturally relevant books available to children of all ages and their families. The literacy campaign is presented through a partnership between Families In Schools (a non-profit organization that promotes literacy), the City of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the Boyle Heights Learning Collaborative (BHLC), Alliance for a Better Community (ABC), and other community and corporate partners including Washington Mutual Bank, Time Warner, Disney, La Opinion and Telemundo 52.

“Feria del Libro brings students, families and schools together to celebrate reading and learning as a community,” said LAUSD Superintendent David L. Brewer III. “The Book Fair and its ongoing literacy-building activities foster and support academic achievement in our schools.”

In addition to countless book-buying opportunities, more than 550 student winners of the Million Word Challenge – a program that encourages students to read millions of words beyond the bell during the academic year – will be recognized throughout the day.

“The book fair is a wonderful community-wide event where families of children of all ages can have the joyful experience of browsing, purchasing and reading books,” said Maria Casillas, executive director of Families In Schools and co-founder of Feria del Libro. added Casillas.

For information about the Feria del Libro: A Family Book Fair, log onto:

• Wednesday May 30, 2007
Please join us to celebrate the groundbreaking of the athletic field improvement project at Narbonne High School!
Ceremony will begin at 10:00 a.m.
Narbonne High School
24300 S Western Ave
Harbor City, CA 90710

• Thursday May 31, 2007
Please join us to celebrate the groundbreaking!
Ceremony will begin at 10:00 a.m.
Ramona Opportunity High School
231 S. Alma Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90063

• Thursday May 31, 2007
CENTRAL REGION SPAN SCHOOL #1: Community Update Meeting
Join us for a very important community meeting regarding key developments about this project.
6:00 p.m.
King Middle School
4201 Fountain Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90029

*Dates and times subject to change.

*Dates and times subject to change. ________________________________________
Phone: 213-241-5183
Phone: 213-893-6800


What can YOU do?
• E-mail, call or write your school board member: • 213-241-6387 • 213-241-6180 • 213-241-6388 • 213-241-6382 • 213-241-6385 • 213-241-6386 • 213-241-6383

...or your city councilperson, mayor, the governor, member of congress, senator - or the president. Tell them what you really think! • There are 26 mayors and five county supervisors representing jurisdictions within LAUSD, the mayor of LA can be reached at • 213.978.0600
• Call or e-mail Governor Schwarzenegger: 213-897-0322 e-mail:
• Open the dialogue. Write a letter to the editor. Circulate these thoughts. Talk to the principal and teachers at your local school.
• Speak with your friends, neighbors and coworkers. Stay on top of education issues. Don't take my word for it!
• Get involved at your neighborhood school. Join your PTA. Serve on a School Site Council. Be there for a child.
• Register.
• Vote.

Who are your elected federal & state representatives? How do you contact them?

Scott Folsom is a parent and parent leader in LAUSD. He is President of Los Angeles 10th District PTSA and represents PTA as Vice-chair the LAUSD Construction Bond Citizen's Oversight Committee. He serves on various school district advisory and policy committees and is a PTA officer and/or governance council member at three LAUSD schools. He is also the elected Youth & Education boardmember on the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council.
• In this forum his opinions are his own and your opinions and feedback are invited. Quoted and/or cited content copyright © the original author and/or publisher. All other material copyright © 4LAKids.
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